Featured People: #RDgrantee Federico Brivio

Throughout the summer we accompany the launch of our Idea Camp call with highlights on the works of former participants showing the depth and breadth of our grantees’ networks. Apply for the 2017 Idea Camp before 20.09.2016.

Federico at the Idea Camp in Sweden, 2015. Still from  YouTube interview .

Federico at the Idea Camp in Sweden, 2015. Still from YouTube interview.

What brought you to formulating your project “QX1”, and what exactly is it?

My personal experience as a migrant arriving in Marseille; some difficulties in understanding the local public administration, the impression that my rights were not as accessible as they should have been. After that, talking with other foreigners in Marseille (EU and non-UE), I noticed that we all had those feelings, that frustration due to a very complex and long settling process in France.

So, I started thinking about the QX1 project with some friends of the Collectif Transbordeur: we have been working on the co-construction of an information-sharing platform for migrants who arrive in Marseille. It will offer multiple tools to foreigners to get first hand information and tips about the town, the French public administration and the ways to continue their journey: a web-site, a free magazine (or flyers), periodic meetings and desks in informal spaces in the city.

Did actual developments of people arriving to Europe in general, and Marseille in particular, change anything in your set up?

We started thinking about this project before the media brought the migrants' crisis of 2015 to its front pages, but those facts confirmed the need for such a tool. Anyway, we still think that our platform will have to be based for and addressed to a wide spectrum of people, from refugees who arrive having lived very difficult situations, following dangerous journeys, to european citizens who decide to settle in France.

Even if the conditions are very different, the struggle to access rights for foreigners concerns everyone, especially nowadays where States are building new frontiers and xenophobia deeply influences our governments' choices.

A lot of people wanted to assist newcomers in finding their way in Europe, but did not know well how to… Could QX1 also be a tool for these people?

QX1 contents will be completely based on interviews made with migrants, so it will dress an alternative portrait of recent migration phenomena. It will also show the existence of many informal networks that help people who wish to settle or transit in Marseille, possibly offering ideas and concrete ‘addresses’ to find ways to help in one’s neighbourhood.

Are you still in contact with other participants of the Idea Camp? With whom, and why?

Yes. I’m in contact with Antonio Sforna, who visited me to find out how our project was evolving. During his stay, we have been working on some aspects of QX1, related with the digital implementation of the platform and online cartography solutions.

In the next months, I will also exchange experiences with other Idea Makers working on the same issues, like Laura Pana, Merve Bedir and Antonia Schwarzmeier, to share experiences and methodology.

Would your plan have developed as it did without having participated in the Idea Camp?

The main improvement my idea has experienced during the Idea Camp probably concerns its storytelling, how to present it to different users or even supporters. In particular, some advice I’ve received from the Idea Feeders [guests who have offered feedback to Idea Makers during the Idea Camp, editor's note] while working on the “Users” section of the trolley helped me to progress on a key issue: our project will need public support (funding, information, partnerships), but it will also deal with big amounts of information that we will have to protect, even from public powers (e.g., sensitive information about migratory policies and the way to circumvent them).

The few moments I’ve shared with other Idea Makers were very positive, letting me exchange ideas with other people working on migration and finding that we all wanted to work on an urgent issue conceiving lasting solutions. Those relationships will surely continue in the next months, generating new inputs and alternative visions for our projects.

The crowdfunding session, organised in Marseille by Goteo and Les Têtes de l'Art, encouraged me to rethink about this opportunity that originally seemed, to me at least, unfit to the project. I also received important tips about open-source web design - one of the weaknesses of our team, thanks to the conversations with Ale Gonzalez and Antonio Sforna. I will surely contact them when I’ll have my mockup ready.

Crowdfunding session in Marseille, December 2015.

Crowdfunding session in Marseille, December 2015.

Moreover, our ideas about the innovation in commoning proposed by migrant communities, as well as our will to conceive a tool supporting it, got confirmed and strengthened, in particular by the Idea Talks: Michel Bauwens and Jane Ifekwunigwe, as well as an interesting conversation I had with Nike Jonah.

The Idea Camp finally gave visibility to our project, especially with two nice press articles, especially those in The Guardian and De Correspondent [see here for full media coverage, editor's note] that will definitely help us when we will submit QX1 to local potential funders.

What do you think your research and project-in-progress say about our times? And maybe more specifically about your home country? And about Marseille, one of the ‘arrival’ cities in Europe?

Like I already said above, the creation of new borders, rights that get more and more hidden behind complex bureaucracies... It is also interesting to think about the distance between the political discourse on the migration crisis and the portrait made by mainstream media, and the actual feelings of the population in different countries. Although it’s true that xenophobia is spreading in some countries, and politicians are trying to take advantage of it, it’s also impressive to see the spontaneous informal groups that appeared in our cities and started working on the migrants' issues, learning complex laws to offer legal support, finding solutions for housing, building networks, deciding sometime to act beside legality in respect of their belief and to what they think that Europe should be. All those initiatives remain quite invisible to the public, and are often persecuted by local authorities, in France they call it “délit de solidarité”! 

Thank you Federico, and for all the work you do! Solidarity is definitely not a crime in our eyes. 

You can also watch this 1 min interview with Federico made at the Idea Camp 2015 about his idea.